Composer Caroline Shaw won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016, becoming the prize's youngest-ever recipient. She has gone on to a good deal of popular success, collaborating with rapper Kanye West on a remix of his single "Say You Will" among other projects. She refers to Orange, pleasingly, as "a garden she and the Attacca Quartet are tending." She has now worked with this group on several projects. Shaw's style as a chamber composer has an attractive derivation from those of past composers, combined with a voice of her own. There are echoes of Stravinskian neoclassicism, and indeed the fine central work here, the five-movement Plan & Elevation, describes the estate in Washington D.C. where Shaw has served as resident composer, and where Stravinsky wrote a commissioned work (the Concerto in E flat, "Dumbarton Oaks") for an anniversary gift. As in some of Stravinsky's works, Shaw begins with square tonal material in a classic mold then gradually departs from it, sometimes considerably. Sample the opening Entr'acte, a substantial work despite its title. Glass is another influence; Shaw has been called post-post-minimalist, and despite the ungainliness of the term, there's no denying she represents a new stage in the minimalist tradition, one where motion can be introduced by texture, as well as harmony. There are points as well that have a percussive orientation and suggest an influence from Shaw's work in popular music and hip-hop (in addition to the West project, she has played violin on many popular recordings). New York's Attacca Quartet plays with a feeling of commitment to and familiarity with the music. Strongly recommended as an introduction to this rising composer.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Plan & Elevation|